In 2006, the Democrats made the Republican “culture of corruption” a central campaign theme, with some success. This was jarring inasmuch as the GOP has historically been the party of clean government. While the Democrats haven’t cornered the market on corruption, I don’t think any serious observer would question that they are its foremost practitioners. So, with the news that Charlie Rangel, former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and the fourth most senior House member, has been charged with ethics violations, the Sun is back to rising in the East:
A House investigative committee on Thursday charged New York Rep. Charles Rangel with multiple ethics violations, a blow to the former Ways and Means chairman and an election-year headache for Democrats.
The committee did not immediately specify the charges against the Democrat, but sources who could not discuss the allegations publicly said they include Rangel’s misuse of official stationery, his use of rent-subsidized New York apartments and failure to publicly disclose financial information as required.
These issues have been in the public domain for a while now, but the timing of the Ethics Committee’s action is bad for the Democrats. Polls indicate that corruption is one area, perhaps the last, where the Democrats are still running even with the Republicans. Publicity about the charges against Rangel could change that, especially since public approval of Congress is at a historic low of 11 percent.